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Archive for August, 2008

The Angel Food Cake That Wasn't

August 26th, 2008 at 05:56 am

Last Thursday was my 2nd DD's birthday. She had requested an angel food cake for her birthday cake. I got home from work, mixed it up and tried to preheat the oven. Five minutes later, I was wondering why the oven was still not up to temperature. I checked and it was still stone cold. I figured out that it was the ignitor in the bottom of the oven that had gone out (again), since the broiler would work but the whole oven would not heat up. And, you cannot broil an angel food cake (don't ask!). We ended up having Sonic ice cream treats for her birthday dessert. I didn't really mind since I had been thinking of treating the kids to Sonic but it was still annoying to have to waste the angel food cake that I had already mixed up. If my neighbors had been home, I might have asked to borrow their oven, but no luck. Fortunately, Mrs. Fix-it here (that's me) was able to order the part late that evening. It arrived early Saturday morning and the oven was repaired by lunchtime. As a bonus, I found my favorite wooden spoon and spatula. They had fallen behind the stove. I had to remove the oven drawer to get to the wiring for the ignitor and I found them on the floor at the back of the oven when I took out the drawer. I also found enough dog hair to build a small dog, assorted pieces of cereal and candy etc. but that is another story (and not a pretty one!).

The oven is now working just fine. My DS (11) was home yesterday so he and I baked chocolate chip cookies for his sisters. They all started back to school yesterday but for some reason at his school, (K - 12) only certain grades started on Monday and others today. So he lucked out with an extra day off. We did not tell his sisters that he helped make the cookies. I'll wait til they are all gone (the cookies that is) so they cannot claim that they tasted funny. On the other hand, if I tell them sooner, I might get more cookies for myself? Hmmmm...maybe I will tell them today.

On a financial note, my mom came over on Sunday for DD's birthday and gave me a check for $1000. She had to take a distribution from an account for some tax reasons and she was giving each of us (my 3 siblings and I) $1000. It could not have come at a better time. August 31 our real estate taxes are due. I have the money already set aside for that but then in September our homeowners, car insurance and 2 car isnpections are also due. It would have really depleted our accounts more than I felt comfortable. This will be just enough cushion to cover some of these expenses without the savings having to go too low. I am still looking for some additional part time work so that we will be able to actually continue to pay down our home equity loan (from when DH was unemployed) and save a bit each month. Yeah Mom!

Anyone Need a Hose Clamp?

August 21st, 2008 at 10:01 am

My second DD's birthday is today - she is 15. One of the things she wants for her birthday is a DVD set from Heroes, one of her favorite TV shows. I pre-ordered it from Amazon for 24.99 and it qualified for free shipping, but only if I ordered something else for .01. Otherwise, I would have to pay over $7.00 for the shipping. I didn't really want to have to shop around or go to the store when it does come out so I was almost ready to bite the bullet and pay the shipping when I got an idea. I know that some people order everyday household things from Amazon and say they get great deals on them. I figured if I could buy something I would use anyway, get it at a good price and then get free shipping, it would be worth it. I searched a bit but did not want to spend all day. Suddenly I saw a metal hose clamp for $.80 that qualified for free shipping. Do I need a hose clamp? Honestly, no. I have no idea what I would do with one. I have not used one, ever, so I am fairly safe saying I don't need one right now. But, in buying the hose clamp for $.80, I now qualified for free shipping for my entire order. Since I did not really have time to keep hunting for something I did need, and it would save me over $6.00 ($7.00 shipping - $.80) I went ahead and ordered the hose clamp. Maybe I can convince my daughter it is some kind of new earring (just kidding)! Anyway, I thought that it was rather smart of me to buy something extra but not end up spending way more than I had intended. I could easily have found a book, DVD etc. that I wanted but I did not want to spend on myself. By spending the money on the hose clamp, I actually came out ahead, as opposed to paying for the shipping. Now, anyone need a hose clamp?

Hello - Goodbye...

August 14th, 2008 at 08:45 am

I feel like that's all I get a chance to say to my money anymore. DH's paycheck gets direct deposited on the 15th and 30th of every month so I get the notice in the mail a day or two ahead. I write out all the checks for the bills (yes, I still ENJOY doing it the old fashioned way) and note any automatic debits (for college funds, Y membership etc.). This allows me to just drop anything in the mail on the 15th or 30th and get all payments in on time. Anyway, I feel like all I do is record the deposit and then keep on subtracting. Seriously, this cycle, after taking out all bills currently due and all auto debits, we have a grand total of 50 cents left over. It is not really as bad as all this since I still have to get paid but it feels like I just wave hello and goodbye anymore. Plus, I have to remind myself that some of it is ultimately going to us: $200 is going to the kids college funds ($50 each x 4 kids) some to retirement, and $100 to our emergency fund. Still, it would be nice for a change to be able to do more than just wave to it in passing.

Mrs. Fix-it Strikes Again!

August 11th, 2008 at 05:50 am

Wednesday evening I tried to put a new flapper on the toilet in the kids bathroom. It hasn't been seating properly for some reason and all of my children claim deafness to the sound of water running constantly in the toilet. I can be downstairs and hear the noise, track it upstairs to their bathroom and figure out what it is. The kids, meanwhile can be 4 feet away in their rooms and claim they never heard it. I bet if it was the sound of THEIR money rather than mom and dads' they would hear it. Anyway, when I went to install the new flapper, the tube that it attaches to broke off right in my hand. Not good. I got DH to shut off the water to that toilet and thus ended his contribution to the project. I figured I would try to fix it myself before calling in a plumber. The next day I went to Home Depot and before hitting the plumbing aisle, I hit their book rack and scanned the do-it-yourself books for plumbing. I found everything covered BUT how to install a new flush valve, which of course is what I needed to do. Anyway, the books did help me narrow it down to that and I headed over to the plumbing aisle where I purchased a brand new flush valve for under $6.00. I went home, installed it in under 1 hour and soon had a good as new toilet. Actually better, since it no longer ran constantly. I would have completed the job even faster but I had to hack thru the original plastic fastener on the bottom of the tank as it was so tight I could not untwist it to remove the old flush valve. That actually turned out to be the hardest part of the job. I told DH he owed me at least $100 for the job.

Friday we took the kids to Camelbeach Waterpark. It is in the Poconos, part of Camelback mountain ski area. It is a very nice water park, not too crowded, very clean. The only problem is that being in the mountains, the weather can turn from sunny to rainy in an instant. We met friends and had a great day. Last year we met the same friends and got rained out around 2:00. This year is started to rain about 1:00 but it was over by about 3 and the rides all re-opened so we were able to get the rest of the day in. Even better, the rain had chased a lot of people away so the lines were really short. All in all it was a very nice day.

Busy Day Yesterday

August 7th, 2008 at 07:52 am

Wednesday is one of my days off but more often than not I spend it doing more than I do on a work day. I went to my mom's yesterday morning to meet with her financial advisor about money she has in a trust that needs to be invested. I found him to be OK but I would not rate him higher than that. He seems honest and I was pleasantly surprised to find that he was not at all pushy or trying to talk her into any type of fancy funds that would increase his commision. She and my dad had always been stock investors (although she does have some money in mutual funds) and she wanted to put this money into more stocks. He gave her the balance sheets from about 20 top companies and we are supposed to go from there. I guess that is why I only rate his as OK. I don't want him to be pushy or do all the selecting for us, but getting an opinion on strategy and some of the companies out of him was like pulling teeth. My opinion is that he is going to be earning something for this, he should at least EARN it. Anyway, mom seems to like his approach and he came highly recommended her lawyer and a former broker she used so since it is her money, her opinion counts for more than mine.

In the afternoon, I took DD17 to have her senior portrait done. I cannot believe she will be a senior this year. The school has an arrangement with a local photographer who does beautiful work. I have seen things she has done and they are very nice. However, I cannot say that I think the prices are very nice. I have to check out her website but as with any photographer, it is definetly pricy. I was a bit disappointed and annoyed that she was not even the one doing the photos, one of her employees was. If I am going to have to pay big bucks to get her name, shouldn't she also have to EARN them. Seems to be the theme of my day, people charging $$$ but not, in my opinion, doing all they should to EARN it. I am not saying that she should not have assistants and employees, just if we are paying the truly big bucks (and yes, her prices are truly big bucks, at least to me) shouldn't she be the one taking the pictures?

Anyway, spent the rest of the day doing grocery shopping, laundry and taking the kids to the pool in the evening. Somehow my day off never seems like a day off!

Catching Up - Again!

August 5th, 2008 at 05:47 am

I keep promising myself to stay consistent with blogging but then find playing catch up again and again.

Friday I took my oldest DD to visit York College in York PA. It is a bit smaller than some of the schools she is looking at but affordable overall and she likes it. Her concensus "keep it on the list". The list of possibilities, that is. The only problem is her list doesn't seem to really get any shorter and people keep suggesting other schools to her. We have already visited 6 schools total and only one is "off the list". We have about 4 more to go before I tell her to start narrowing down her choices. You could drive yourself crazy finding the "perfect" school but I do not really think that exists.

I am going to my mother's house tomorrow to meet with her and a financial advisor about her investments and some in a trust. It should be interesting as I am not a fan of advisors who make their money on commissions. On the one hand, it is her money, not mine so I have to be polite. On the other hand, she is my mother and the money in the trust is for my siblings and I once she passes away so obviously I do have a vested interest in both maximizing the gains and minimizing the costs. It should be interesting.

DH and I are supposed to take the kids to a waterpark with family friends on Friday. I am hoping for good weather. We went to the same water part last August with the same friends and had a great time, right up until it started pouring rain for 2+ hours. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

DH and I both got paid on Aug. 1 but the majority of the money went to exciting things like paying the bills. I have $235 to last us til the next checks on 8/15. Since that includes gas, groceries, dog food etc. it should be tight but I am sure it will work out. It always does. We have money in ING and a mutual fund account but I hate to touch those for regular household expenses. The trip to the waterpark, however, will be coming out the the ING account since we have been planning for it and I have been putting money away towards that.

My oldest has an interview today for a job at a local day care, afternoons during the school year. She works right now for a kids party place but during the school year she really only gets hours on Sunday. She wants to keep that job but also earn more so I suggested a day care. She had worked retail last year and neither she, nor I, liked the hours. At a day care, she will still have her weekends free and they close at 6 so she would be done by 6:30. As I put it "still plenty of time for homework!".

I am counting the days til the kids go back to school. August 25th around here. I have been slowly accumulating back to school supplies by taking advantage of the sales at both Target and Staples. I am just waiting for someone to run a really good sale on 3-hole paper. In the past I have been able to stock up at as little as $0.17 a pack. Best I have seen this year was Target at $0.50 a pack. Not bad but not the great stock up deal I was looking for. Anybody else started back to school shopping yet?